Bark Launches as a Smarter Way to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

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Bark uses artificial intelligence to scan through social media messages and alert parents to potential cyber bullying, sexting and even depression.

Every so often a service comes along that does something so well it makes you realize just how inept the old services were at doing the same exact thing. That new service could be Bark – it puts a high tech spin on monitoring your child’s social media and text messaging activities to alert parents when something seems wrong.

Bark connects to your child’s social media accounts and supports a wide variety of them – Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, GroupMe, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. It also supports iOS and Android text messaging. Bark confirms that messages sent through iMessage would also be monitored, which is huge. I’m still unclear whether it supports iMessage, but I’m checking on that. As for Snapchat, right now there is no way for a third-party service to connect to it, so unfortunately no monitoring service handles that.

Bark social media monitoring kids child

But here is the magic of Bark compared to other teen watchdog services – it doesn’t force parents to sort through and read all of their kids’ messages to find potential issues. Bark uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to notice patterns and messages that could indicate cyberbullying, sexting, drugs and even signs of depression. The service goes beyond keywords to surface potentially troublesome exchanges.

I haven’t tested Bark but I like where they are headed. Founders of the app believe that this approach is fundamentally better because it builds trust between parents and their children. I agree, since your kids know you aren’t needlessly reading through every one of their messages and scanning their internet history like a private investigator – parents can lean on Bark to notify them when there is a sign of trouble.

Is this a perfect system? No. Is it foolproof? Of course not. Being a parent still comes into play, but Bark is just one tool that could help when it comes to online safety.

The other neat thing about Bark is that it will also suggest ways to deal with whatever issue it surfaces. It actually gives parents resources on how to talk to their child about the subject or get more help. Bark is $9 a month or $99 a year and seems well worth the cost for the peace of mind it can afford parents.

Bark was a presenter and finalist at the 2016 TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, a big event where startups present their business to an audience of entrepreneurs, investors and the media. Many successful startups have been launched there. Here is Bark’s presentation.

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